Relay is a year of mission, discipleship and training for graduates who love CUs. Each year, around 50 recent graduates have the opportunity to serve alongside Christian Unions, on the front line of student mission. After a term in the role, Durham Relay Worker Phoebe shares her thoughts on the Relay year so far.
Written by Phoebe Sleeman, Relay Worker in Durham
CUs – sharing the gospel with students
I loved studying history at Durham and seeing God’s hand at work throughout time and space. I also loved getting involved with CU and seeing students become Christians literally before my eyes! Of course, at times it was slow and difficult work, but seeing new Christian freshers come every year grew my faith in God’s power and His salvation purposes, and I found myself not wanting to leave Durham CU; I didn’t want to miss seeing more of what God is doing in Durham.
I was so excited at the opportunity that Relay provided and only a few months in I have felt myself grow so much in love and knowledge of Jesus and have seen hearts being softened to the gospel.
Here are three highlights so far.
The Relay study programme
The Relay study programme has been instrumental in that growth. At the time of writing, autumn is in full pelt and Durham is awash in yellows and oranges. This morning I had the wonderful joy of listening to Tim Keller’s sermon on creation singing in praise of the Creator whilst wandering the woods of Durham. It brought home to me both the wonder of creation and of recreation and the reconciling work of Jesus on the cross. My favourite line was ‘our maker became unmade so that we can be remade!’ Study responses have also given me a wonderful chance to dig deeper into what I’ve been learning and one-to-one supervisions with my Staff Worker have helped me process all that I’ve been thinking through. For my elective study, I have undertaken a module with Biblical Counselling UK. This has radically transformed the way I think about grace, the gospel, and the daily choices of my life and has helped me in my meetings with students to encourage them to live every aspect of their lives to God’s glory.
Opportunities to grow – running seminars and giving evangelistic talks
In September I had the joy of running a seminar for new students on the CU’s Freshers’ Getaway. I spoke on surviving and thriving in freshers’ week, and it was such a joy to encourage new freshers to stick with Jesus and take care of their bodies, minds and souls for the Lord. Relay has also pushed me out of my comfort zone! I had the opportunity of giving an evangelistic talk at the CU’s Welcome Ceilidh right after freshers’ week. My supervisor was so helpful in helping me think through structuring and editing my talk, and I spoke on how Jesus is relevant to life to about 100 students!
An area of CU mission that I’m especially passionate about is international outreach. It’s been so wonderful to come alongside the new international secretary in Durham and really envision what international outreach could look like this year. I have also had the absolute joy of reading Uncover Mark with a student from Hong Kong who grew up a nominal Christian. The Lord is at work in her heart, and she has got stuck into church with me, and has started a seeker course which is really exciting!
I honestly wasn’t sure how this year would look when I applied. But it is now genuinely my dream job and has really encouraged me to think about what the rest of my life will look like in service of the King. In the past, I have struggled to fully accept grace, but Relay has been utterly soaked in grace. I didn’t know it at the time of applying but grace is the core of Relay. The Scriptural foundation for the Relay programme is 2 Timothy 2:1-2: ‘you then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.’ What a joy it is to have been strengthened in the joy of the Lord, entrusted with the words of life, and provided with the opportunities to teach others.
Please pray for me that:
Relay Applications are open
The second round of applications are now open until 19 February 2024. Find out more and apply here.
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